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Attorney General Carl Bethel defending the government of the Bahamas says that money laundering convictions were made in The Bahamas . He has corrected comments made by European Union Member of Parliament (MEP) Sven Giegold.

It is clear that the commentator was utterly ignorant of not only the changes we’ve made, but also of the fact that there have been money laundering convictions ever since the first Proceeds of Crime Act was passed in 1996 in The Bahamas,”  Bethel said in the Senate on Wednesday.

For someone to state that The Bahamas does not prosecute money laundering is the height of ignorance.”

In a recent interview with The Bahama Journal, Giegold called The Bahamas a “stubborn case” as it relates to its global financial obligations and insisted that the country must carry out money laundering convictions after being blacklisted by the European Union.

The EU labeled The Bahamas as a high risk jurisdiction for financial crime and Giegold believes The Bahamas has no convictions of money laundering.

“If in certain jurisdictions, although it has a larger financial place, a larger financial center, and nobody is convicted, that is a clear sign that your regime doesn’t deliver,” Giegold said.  “That is the reason why The Bahamas was seen as a country that has not solved all the problems and this is not about destroying anyone’s business.”

According to the Attorney General, since the passage of laws in 2018, The Bahamas has increased the levels of money laundering charges and has increased the rate of conviction on money laundering offences.  

“Forty offences were charged over the last year and a half and 19 resulted in convictions, netting roughly $2.7 million that has gone into the Confiscated Asset Fund,” Bethel explained.  “Let me say, I am in the process of drafting a response that will be sent to this Member of the European Parliament, but I won’t sign the letter, the permanent secretary will sign that letter to him.  But he will be thoroughly disabused of his ignorance.  

This is The Bahamas.  We don’t play fool.  When we set our minds to perform a task, we do it.”

The EU’s decision to blacklist The Bahamas was based on an evaluation by the Financial Action Task Force and an additional evaluation by the EU.

At the time of the blacklisting, The Bahamas was compliant with most of FATF’s required criteria.

But according to Giegold, more action was needed by the government.  

“So the claim that the criteria were met, maybe, but at least you didn’t convince FATF,” Giegold said.  “So your government didn’t convince FATF and beyond that there are some straightforward issues.”

During the Senate’s meeting, the Attorney General indicated that the government is doing more to become fully compliant with international agencies, as senators agreed to the Anti-Terrorism Resolution.  

Senator Bethel said the Anti-Terrorism Act 2018 is a cutting edge legislation that sets up a framework, which allows The Bahamas to be and remain fully compliant with all United Nations Security Council resolutions.

He explained that the Anti-Terrorism Act and other regulations would make The Bahamas fully compliant not only in its antiterrorism regime, but will close the circle of full compliance with all of the antimony laundering, counter financing of initiatives of the international community, which initiatives are spearheaded by the Financial Action Task Force.  

It is therefore a critical step, a critical closing step in our full compliance and technical compliance with the FATF 40 recommendations.  With the coming into force of these regulations, if we were to be reevaluated now, as if we were reevaluated in December of last year, we would probably go up by another three FATF recommendations to be not just fully compliant, but with not just with 30, with 33 recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force, which would truly place The Bahamas in the very front row of compliant countries,” Bethel said.  

He pointed out that government officials recently attended a FATF plenary meeting and the substantial progress The Bahamas has made was noted by assessors.

It was acknowledged to us and to our team that The Bahamas in record time has thoroughly repositioned itself in the minds of the global community as now being a country that is on the verge of full compliance and that full compliance is on the verge of being recognized,” Mr. Bethel said.

There are still more things we need to do, but they are now in the realm of technical implementation.  There is still some work to be done in showing the effectiveness of our implementation of all of the new laws in the new financial regime.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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